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February 28, 2006, 11:18 PM CT

Technology Helps Disabled Kids Find Their Voice

Technology Helps Disabled Kids Find Their Voice
Laptop computers that combine features from popular toys with innovative technology have rapidly accelerated the learning and communication ability of disabled children, Penn State scientists say. The technology could in the future be adapted to victims of major accidents and the elderly as well.

As per Janice Light, distinguished professor of communication sciences and disorders at Penn State, more than 2 million Americans are unable to use speech to communicate, and children are a major component of this population.

"Kids learn and communicate through speech by trying out new words and forming sentences," says Light. "f they can't do that due to problems such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, then it is going to be difficult to learn how to read and write, make friends, and communicate their needs".

Computer-based technology that provides speech output is increasingly being used to assist such children in communicating but Light feels it has still not fully served its purpose.

"The design of a number of of these systems is really based on how adults think, and the machines are complicated and children take years learning how to use them," adds Light, who presented her findings today (Feb. 20) at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 24, 2006, 9:23 PM CT

Burden of Illness in Drug abusers

Burden of Illness in Drug abusers
Little is known about the frequency, severity and risk factors for disease in drug and alcohol dependent persons without primary medical care. This article assesses the burden of medical illness and identifies patient and substance dependence characteristics associated with worse physical health in order to compare measures of illness burden in this population. Scientists conducted a cross-sectional study among alcohol, heroin or cocaine dependent persons without primary medical care admitted to an urban inpatient detoxification unit (mean age = 35.7 years; 76% male; 46% Black).

Forty-five percent reported being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and 80% had previous medical hospitalizations. The mean age-adjusted SF-36 Physical Component Summary (PCS) score was significantly lower than the general U.S. population norm (44.1 vs. 50.1). In multivariable analysis, the following factors were associated with worse health: female gender, problem use of hallucinogens, heroin, other opiates, living alone, having medical insurance, and older age. Alcohol and drug dependent persons without primary medical care have a substantial burden of medical illness compared to age and gender matched U.S. population controls. While the optimal measure of medical illness burden in this population is unclear, a variety of health measures document this medical illness burden in addicted persons.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink     


February 24, 2006, 0:04 AM CT

Dvds, Books And Behavioural Problems In Children

Dvds, Books And Behavioural Problems In Children
Parents wanting to solve their children's behavioural problems may be well advised to turn to DVDs and self-help books, rather than to clinical help such as face-to-face cognitive-behavioural treatment, as per Oxford University research published in The Cochrane Library 2006.

Cognitive-behavioural interventions have shown to be highly effective for reducing behavioural problems in children, yet they are costly and not always available to all those needing help as times on waiting lists can be up to 30 weeks for non-urgent cases. If the information parents need in order to manage their children's behaviour presented in book (or other media format) more families could have access to practical help.

The authors of the study carried out the first systematic review of those studies which dealt with the question of improving children's behaviour. Analysing 11 studies including 943 participants, the authors found that media-based therapies for behavioural disorders in children had a moderate effect when compared with no therapy, or as an adjunct to medication. Significant improvements were made with the addition of up to two hours of therapist time.

Dr Paul Montgomery, Lecturer in Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford, said: 'Self-help books and other media on how to solve your child's behaviour problems abound in the shops, yet almost none have actually been scientifically tested. Our work suggests that self-help books may, in some cases, make significant changes in a child's behaviour. This means that, if used systematically, they may help reduce the time that primary care workers have to devote to each case. Such media could also be used as a first stage in a stepped up care approach. This would increase the number of families who could benefit from this type of intervention, and clinical time could be used for more complex cases.'.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 20, 2006, 6:24 PM CT

Landmark Study Of Bipolar Disorder In Children

Landmark Study Of Bipolar Disorder In Children
Children and teen-agers with bipolar disorder suffer from the illness differently than adults do. Their symptoms last longer and swing more swiftly from hyperactivity and recklessness to lethargy and depression.

This is the first major finding published from the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Illness in Youth, or COBY, research program. Under COBY, psychiatry experts from Brown Medical School, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of California-Los Angeles have studied more than 400 pediatric patients, some for as long as five years, to determine the course of bipolar disorder as well as gauge its behavioral and social effects. COBY is the largest and most comprehensive pediatric study of bipolar disorder to date.

In their first COBY publication, in the Archives of General Psychiatry, scientists report on 263 subjects aged 7 to 17 with bipolar spectrum disorder. Subjects were studied over a roughly two-year period and asked about mood, behavior, and medical therapy. The aim: Determine how bipolar disorder, in all its forms, progresses in children and teens.

Martin Keller, M.D., a pioneer in designing and conducting long-term studies of major psychiatric disorders, is principal investigator for the Brown Medical School research team.

"Bipolar disorder severely impairs functioning and has a high rate of related psychiatric and physical health issues, such as anxiety and substance abuse," said Keller, the Mary E. Zucker Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and psychiatry expert-in-chief of Brown's seven affiliated hospitals. "These data are essential to improving diagnosis and therapy for a vulnerable population. The data can also inform the design of clinical drug trials so the trials have a maximum likelihood of identifying effective therapys".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 14, 2006, 11:16 PM CT

Few Effective Treatments For Personality Disorder

Few Effective Treatments For Personality Disorder
No single therapy stands out as particularly effective for borderline personality disorder, a mental illness that can involve self-harm and suicide attempts, as per two new reviews of recent studies.

Borderline personaltiy disorder does appear to respond more strongly to certain kinds of psychological "talk" therapies, British scientists found. However, the therapys that showed the most promise were relatively new and supported by "too few data for confidence," the authors write.

Because both are complex, intensive therapies that require long-term staff training, "we think that such therapys will only be available to a select few patients," said co-author Mark Fenton.

The team, led by Conor Duggan of the University of Nottingham and Clive Adams of the University of Leeds, conducted separate reviews on psychological and drug therapies for boderline personality disorder.

The reviews appear in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

The team analyzed findings from seven studies on structured talking therapies, comprising 262 adult outpatients with either a formal diagnosis or at least three criteria for the boderline personality disorder.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 13, 2006, 11:27 PM CT

Stopping Antidepressant Use While Pregnant

Stopping Antidepressant Use While Pregnant
Pregnant women who discontinue antidepressant medications may significantly increase their risk of relapse during pregnancy, a new study funded by the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Mental Health found.

Women in the study who stopped taking antidepressants while pregnant were five times more likely than those who continued use of these medications to experience episodes of depression during pregnancy, reported Lee Cohen, M.D. of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues in the February 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Depression is a disabling disorder that has been estimated to affect approximately 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States. Recently there has been concern about the use of antidepressants during pregnancy; however what has not been addressed is the risk of depression recurrence should someone discontinue antidepressant use. This study sheds light on the risk of relapse associated with discontinuing antidepressant treatment during pregnancy.

In the study, Cohen and his colleagues enrolled pregnant women already taking antidepressants and then noted how a number of of the women decided to stop taking their medications. They then assessed the risk of relapse for the women who stopped versus maintained antidepressant treatment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink     


February 11, 2006, 3:04 PM CT

People React Differently To Pain

People React Differently To Pain Pain pathway to the brain
A Rochester-based study has observed more than 20 percent of people with chronic pain did not seek doctor help for their pain. The study supports the opinion of a number of physicians that a large segment of patients has an unmet need for pain care.

Increased media attention and doctor education are recommended to decrease the number of "silent sufferers," as per the study. Reported in the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the study looked at 3,575 people. Of the 2,211 respondents who reported pain of more than three months' duration, 22.4 percent (497) stated that they had not informed their doctor about their pain. The survey covered a cross-section of residents of Olmsted County, Minn., from March through June 2004.

It is unclear whether the reasons for not seeking therapy are limited to minor impact of pain on the person, or for other reasons such as poor prior experiences with pain care, perceived lack of effective therapys, and barriers to health care; lack of medical insurance, for example.

The importance of pain management has gained increasing recognition in the last decade. In 1995, the American Pain Society declared pain to be the fifth vital sign, a designation to increase pain awareness among health care professionals.

The rapid increases in pain medicine prescription hint at a population of patients with unmet pain needs, as per the study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 10, 2006, 7:31 AM CT

Use Of Lithium During Pregnancy

Use Of Lithium During Pregnancy
Pregnant women can take lithium safely for control of bipolar disorder as delivery approaches during late pregnancy provided they follow a series of guidelines designed to minimize risk to the developing fetus, as per Emory University School of Medicine scientists writing in a recent issue of the "American Journal of Psychiatry".

Maintaining a therapeutic dose of lithium until right before delivery can help pregnant women avoid symptoms of bipolar disorder without posing undue risks of harm to the fetus, says a team of scientists led by D. Jeffrey Newport, MD, MS, MDiv, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine and associate director of the Emory Women's Mental Health Program. Co-author Zachary N. Stowe, MD, is an associate professor of psychiatry at Emory and serves as the program's director.

The Women's Mental Health Program is dedicated to the research and therapy of mental illness during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The study, which followed women receiving care through the program, is described in the November 2005 issue of the journal.

Bipolar disorder is equally distributed among men and women, and affects about 1 percent of the population. In both men and women, it is most likely to appear in the early twenties -- significantly, a woman's most common child-bearing years.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink    Source


February 7, 2006, 10:24 PM CT

Parental Alcoholism Substance Abuse In Children

Parental Alcoholism Substance Abuse In Children
The impacts of parental alcoholism in children are well known, especially the alcohol consumption habits of children of alcoholics (COA's). However, until now, little research has been conducted on the connection between parental alcoholism and illicit drug use in emerging adults. A new study by David Flora, PhD of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (now at York University), and Laurie Chassin, PhD of Arizona State University, shows that parental alcoholism represents a risk factor for maladaptive behaviors in adulthood that extend beyond alcoholism and into illicit drug use. The study appears in the current issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

This research identifies parental alcoholism as an important risk factor for escalated use of both alcohol and other drugs during young adulthood. Specifically, parental alcoholism has been associated with both an early onset of drinking and with persistent alcohol abuse throughout adulthood. Currently 1 in 4 children (under the age of 18) grow up in a household affected by alcoholism as per the National Association of Children of Alcoholics. That means 1 in 4 emerging adults and young adults will be faced with an increased risk for alcoholism and illicit drug use, simply because of exposure to an alcoholic parent.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


February 6, 2006, 11:39 PM CT

Memory Problems At Menopause

Memory Problems At Menopause
Women who feel that they become more forgetful as menopause approaches shouldn't just "fuhgetabout it": There may be something to their own widespread reports that they're more likely to forget things as menopause approaches, say researchers who reported results from a small study today at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in Boston.

The team from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the issue is not really impaired memory. Instead, the team found a link between complaints of forgetfulness and the way middle-aged, stressed women learn or "encode" new information.

"This is not what most people think of traditionally when they think of memory loss," said co-author Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology. "It feels like a memory problem, but the cause is different. It feels like you can't remember, but that's because you never really learned the information in the first place".

The findings come from Mapstone and Miriam Weber, Ph.D., memory experts at the University's Memory Disorders Clinic who are seeing more and more middle-aged women who say they are having problems with forgetfulness.

The team found nothing to support the idea that such women are on their way to developing Alzheimer's disease, and they didn't find any problem with what most people consider "memory." But they did make a finding that helps explain why women in their 40s and 50s frequently say they're having memory problems: It's possible that their changing moods and hectic lives make it harder to keep track of everything.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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